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Authors: Steven Brust

The Book of Taltos

BOOK: The Book of Taltos
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T
HE
C
YCLE

Phoenix sinks into decay

Haughty dragon yearns to slay.

Lyorn growls and lowers horn

Tiassa dreams and plots are born.

Hawk looks down from lofty flight

Dzur stalks and blends with night.

Issola strikes from courtly bow

Tsalmoth maintains though none knows how.

Vallista rends and then rebuilds

Jhereg feeds on others’ kills.

Quiet iorich won’t forget

Sly chreotha weaves his net.

Yendi coils and strikes, unseen

Orca circles, hard and lean.

Frightened teckla hides in grass

Jhegaala shifts as moments pass.

Athyra rules minds’ interplay

Phoenix rises from ashes gray.

The Adventures of Vlad Taltos

JHEREG

YENDI

TECKLA

TALTOS

PHOENIX

ATHYRA

ORCA

DRAGON

ISSOLA

DZUR

Anthologies

THE BOOK OF JHEREG

THE BOOK OF TALTOS

THE BOOK OF ATHYRA

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

The Book of Taltos
copyright © 2002 by Steven Brust.
Taltos
copyright © 1988 by Steven K. Z. Brust.
Phoenix
copyright © 1990 by Steven Brust.
Cover art by Kinuko Y. Craft.

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PRINTING HISTORY
Ace trade paperback edition / January 2002

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Brust, Steven, 1955–
[Phoenix]
The book of Taltos / Steven Brust.
p. cm.
Contents: Phoenix—Taltos.
ISBN 978-1-101-66578-7
1. Fantasy fiction, American. I. Brust, Steven, 1955—Taltos. II. Title.

PS3552.R84 B66 2002
813’.54—dc21
2001045773

Version_1

Table of Contents

The Cycle

Other Books by Steven Brust

Title Page

Copyright

Author’s Note

Pronunciation Guide

 

TALTOS

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

PHOENIX

PART ONE: Technical Considerations

Lesson 1: Contract Negotiations

Lesson 2: Transportation

Lesson 3: The Perfect Assassination

Lesson 4: Handling Interrogation

Lesson 5: Returning Home

PART TWO: Business Considerations

Lesson 6: Dealing With Middle Management I

Lesson 7: Matters of State I

Lesson 8: Dealing with Middle Management II

Lesson 9: Making Friends I

Lesson 10: Making Friends II

Lesson 11: Matters of State II

Lesson 12: Basic Survival Skills

Lesson 13: Advanced Survival Skills

Lesson 14: Fundamentals of Betrayal

PART THREE: Aesthetic Considerations

Lesson 15: Basic Improvisation

Lesson 16: Dealing With Upper Management I

Lesson 17: Dealing With Upper Management II

Epilogue

Author’s Note

One of the questions I’m most often asked is: “In what order would you recommend reading these books?” Unfortunately, I’m just exactly the wrong guy to ask. I made every effort to write them so they could be read in any order. I am aware that, in some measure at least, I have failed (I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting with
Teckla,
for example), but the fact that I was trying makes me incapable of giving an answer.

Many people whose opinion I respect believe publication order is best; this volume reflects that belief. For those who want to read the books in chronological order, it would go like this:
Taltos, Yendi, Dragon, Jhereg, Teckla, Phoenix, Athyra, Orca, Issola.

The choice, I daresay, is yours. In any case, I hope you enjoy them.

Steven Brust
Minneapolis
March 1999 

P
RONUNCIATION
G
UIDE
Adrilankha
ah-dri-LAHN-kuh
Adron
Ā-drahn
Aliera
uh-LEER-uh
Athyra
uh-THĪ-ruh
Baritt
BĀR-it
Brust
brūst
Cawti
KAW-tee
Chreotha
kree-O-thuh
Dragaera
druh-GAR-uh
Drien
DREE-en
Dzur
tser
Iorich
ī-Ō-rich
Issola
î-SŌ-luh
Jhegaala
zhuh-GAH-luh
Jhereg
zhuh-REG
Kiera
KĪ-ruh
Kieron
KĪ-rahn
Kragar
KRAY-gahr
Leareth
LEER-eth
Loiosh
LOI-ōIsh
Lyorn
LI-orn
Mario
MAH-ree-ō
Mellar
MEH-lar
Morrolan
muh-RŌL-uhn
Norathar
NŌ-ruh-thahr
Rocza
RAW-tsuh
Serioli
sar-ee-Ō-lee
Taltos
TAHL-tōsh
Teckla
TEH-kluh
Tiassa
tee-AH-suh
Tsalmoth
TSAHL-mōth
Verra
VEE-ruh
Valista
vuhl-ISS-tuh
Yendi
YEN-dee
Zerika
zuh-REE-kuh
T
ALTOS
1
 

The Cycle: Dragon, dzur, and chreotha; athyra, hawk, and phoenix; teckla and jhereg.

They danced before my eyes. The Dragaeran Empire, its population divided into seventeen Great Houses, each with its animal representation, seemed to unfold in my hands. Here was the Empire of Dragaerans, and here was I, the Easterner, the outsider.

It wouldn’t get any easier.

The eyes of no gods upon me, I began.

S
OME TWO HUNDRED MILES
to the north and east of Adrilankha there lies a mountain, shaped as if by the hand of a megalomaniacal sculptor into the form of a crouching grey dzur.

You’ve seen it, I’m sure, in thousands of paintings and psiprints from hundreds of angles, so you know as well as I that the illusion of the great cat is as perfect as artifice or nature could make it. What is most interesting is the left ear. It is fully as feline as the other, but is known to have been fabricated. We have our suspicions about the whole place, but never mind that; we’re
sure
about the left ear.

It is here, say the legends, that Sethra Lavode, the Enchantress, the Dark Lady of Dzur Mountain, sits like a great spider in the center of an evil web, hoping to snare the true-hearted hero. Exactly why she would wish to do this the legends don’t make clear; as is their right, of course.

I sat in the center of my own evil web, jiggled a strand, and caused it to bring forth more particulars about mountain, tower, and lady. It seemed likely that I was going to have to visit the place, webs being the fragile things that they are.

Of such things are legends made.

I was going over a couple of letters I’d received. One was from a human girl named Szandi, thanking me for a wonderful evening. On reflection, I decided it had been pretty nice at that. I made a mental note to write back and ask if she’d be free sometime next week. The other was from one of my employees, asking if a certain customer could have an extension on a loan he’d taken out to cover gambling losses to another of my employees. I was thinking about this and drumming my fingertips when I heard Kragar clear his throat. Loiosh, my familiar, flew off his coat rack and landed on my shoulder, hissing at Kragar.

“I wish he’d stop doing that, boss,”
said Loiosh psionically.

“Me, too, Loiosh.”

I said to Kragar, “How long have you been sitting there?”

“Not long.”

His lean, seven-foot-tall Dragaeran frame was slouched in the chair opposite me. For once, he was not looking smug. I wondered what was bothering him, but didn’t ask. If it was any of my business, he’d tell me. I said, “Do you remember a Chreotha named Fyhnov? He wants to extend his loan from Machan, and I don’t know—”

“There’s a problem, Vlad.”

I blinked. “Tell me about it.”

BOOK: The Book of Taltos
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